Three common reasons why businesses fail when going global
Many businesses include global expansion into their growth strategy. With easy access to the Internet anyone can quickly start targeting customers abroad without physical presence on the foreign market.
A website and social media profiles in several languages seem to be enough to embark on a global adventure.
So, why are there so few truly global and successful companies around the world? Or why so many businesses fail when moving abroad even if they allocate a large budget for this process?
Well, the reasons are usually very simple. It all boils down to one thing – lack of deep cultural and linguistic adjustments.
Below you can see three common mistakes many brands do when going global:
1. Lack of thorough local research
A simple online research won’t be enough to determine your target market and define your main local competitors. You’ll need a clear picture of your ideal customer for each and every market. Plus, you’ll have to assess how many potential customers you may have in every country.
Don’t forget to analyze your business structure and model to see if it can work on a new market. If not, decide what are the methods or processes you have to modify to meet the needs and requirements of your new customers.
Focus also on analyzing the legal aspects, think about the shipping costs and consider whether you can afford local customer support.
Finally, be careful when choosing your target audience. You can, for example, study your current website traffic or look at the location of your social media followers. This might help to determine where your potential customers are and what markets you should focus on first.
Once you know your new target audience inside out you can move on to analyze your local competition. For example, you can check their online reviews and forums to find out what are their weak points. Remember to have a close look at their online and offline presence. Are you sure you can compete with their offer and build a more effective marketing strategy?
Only a deep analysis of the local market will help you avoid disappointment, prepare for potential issues and determine the right strategy for your expansion.
2. Limited international SEO
Many brands limit their international SEO to adapting the keywords to the new target market and providing the right URL structure for each and every location.
But quite often that’s not enough.
Before you invest your resources in international SEO, you’ll need to know which search engine prevails in your target country. Google is not the obvious choice for all users around the world.
Then, you’ll need to find out which items of your localized website should be adapted to increase your ranking. Choosing proper local keywords and the right URL are just two items on a very long SEO-to-do list.
Think, for example, about the localized ALT tags and descriptions for your images, building links from and to local resources, language and country detection of your visitors (IP or browser settings?), consider the site structure that will work best for you (ccTLDs, sub-directories or sub-domains) and decide about your server location.
All these factors may play a crucial role in your website ranking on the target market, so make sure you have the right skills or work with specialists to take your multilingual website to the next level.
3. Superficial adjustments to the local culture
To attract visitors from the new markets many business create an “international” version of their website. In many cases this simply means presenting the content in English and hoping that it will suffice to attract the users from abroad.
Some brands go one step further and create several language versions for every country and region. Still, translating your website and adding a few tweaks such as using the local currency and measurements might not be enough to succeed on the foreign market.
What you really need here is thorough localization and cultural adaptation to each and every country. There’s much more that requires modifications than just your texts, colors or date formats.
That’s why you’ll need to analyze your target markets and study online behavior, preferences, buying habits or navigation patterns of your target users. The adjustments you’ll need to implement go far beyond offering local payment methods or observing the local legislation. Depending on the country, you might need to add or remove some content, find more appropriate images, redesign the menus or totally change the user interface.
Not all website visitors will find your original images appealing, so for some markets you might want to consider adding animations or focusing on images with local touch, e.g. on graphics that feature local monuments or people from the target country.
The more you understand the local culture and behavior of your target users, the better prepared you are to respond to the needs of your customers. This knowledge will help you develop a more engaging, truly localized website that is ready to take your business global.
Dorota Pawlak is a localization consultant for digital brands. She enjoys helping businesses enter new markets and is passionate about cultures, languages, and technology.
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